LAUREN MELLO, A 13-year-old eighth-grader at Crofton Middle School, designed the winning artwork in a statewide competition to create billboards for Pregnancy Prevention Month in May.
Lauren's design features a large eye, encompassing the image of a young mother holding her baby. Around the picture is Lauren's slogan, "Think first. Live your life before you begin another."
Lauren says she never thought of herself as an artist. She has been involved in ballet since she was 4, and dances now with the Ballet Theater of Annapolis. She also loves poetry.
Her mother, Carla Marx, adds that her daughter is deeply concerned about issues that touch people's lives, such as environmental awareness and human rights.
But drawing and painting had never caught her attention - until her art teacher, Deborah Kappel, assigned a homework project for her students to create entries for the contest sponsored by the Governor's Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, the Campaign for Our Children and the Baltimore public relations firm of Richardson, Myers & Donofrio.
Each design was to address the issue of teen pregnancy. The winner would be featured in a series of billboards across Maryland.
Lauren was intrigued. She had just read a disturbing article about the growing problem of teen pregnancy. She had been particularly touched by a poem written by a pregnant teen-ager, who remembered all the fun she had and was regretting all the things she would miss with the heavy responsibilities of the pregnancy.
Lauren remembers spending a rainy weekend thinking about that pregnant girl and so many like her. She wanted to convey the loss that girl was feeling: If only she could have thought first about what was to come, rather than regret what would never be.
Out of that rainy weekend came Lauren's design, looking into the mind of a young girl and saying, "Think first. Live your life before you make another."
Lauren was excited when she brought her creation to school that Monday. Her friends loved it. And she was even more excited when she learned a few weeks ago that she finished first from hundreds of entries from around the state.
Lauren and the four runners-up spent a day at Richardson, Myers & Donofrio, looking for the best ways to turn her design into a billboard. A few changes were made: Where her design showed a sketch of a mother and baby, the final product has a photograph. But the billboard is true to the design Lauren created on that rainy winter weekend.
On May 30, she will join Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in an Annapolis news conference to officially unveil the design. In addition to the news conference and the honor of winning, Lauren received a $500 savings bond.
And she got an A on her homework assignment.
Tea and Epiphany
Epiphany Episcopal Church will introduce its Epiphany Blend at its annual spring English Country Tea on Saturday.
In addition to the familiar Darjeeling, Earl Grey and English Breakfast varieties, Elva Cox, who organizes the church's teas, has created the new blend - a mixture of teas from Sri Lanka and India.
It was intended as a treat for those who enjoy traditional English country tea and also to honor the local church. Tea-goers who enjoy the new blend will be able to purchase packages to brew at home.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the church, at Morgan and Odenton roads just off Route 175 in Odenton. Participants will enjoy scones, tea sandwiches, trifle and their choice of tea in the relaxed atmosphere of the historic World War I chapel.
Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Information or to purchase tickets: Elva Cox, 410-674-4144.
Kiwanis golf tournament
The Kiwanis Foundation of Crofton's 20th annual Children's Charity Golf Tournament will take place May 22 at Walden Golf Club. A special highlight will be a pretournament lunch of grilled hot dogs, with chips and beverages, said Chairman David Espie,
The lunch and a country barbecue buffet at 6:30 p.m. are included in the entry fee, along with the greens fee and cart.
A half-hour golf clinic will be offered prior to tee-off. Every golfer will receive a door prize and a photograph, and a new car will be awarded for a hole-in-one.
Registration will begin at 11 a.m. on tournament day, with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $95 for those signing up by Friday, or $110 later. Proceeds will benefit Children: Priority One, a charity sponsored by Kiwanis International.
Information: David Espie, 410-721-0246.
CARP changes its name
The Crofton Association of Retired Persons has a new name - but not a new acronym.
At the April meeting, the group approved the new name: Crofton Area Retired Persons. But the acronym will still be CARP.
Publicity Chairman Richard Strauss said the new name expresses the group's intent to be open to all seniors in the Crofton area.
The annual election for new officers was also held in April. Leading CARP through the next year will be President Patrick Rubilotta, Vice President Helene Husbands, Secretary Georgia Maxwell and Treasurer Joe Gifford.
CARP's last regular monthly meeting before summer is planned for 11 a.m. May 17 at the Fort Meade Officers' Club.
Maxwell will address the group, reviewing the activities of the Red Cross and the way it responds to crisis situations, and a representative of the Maryland Public Service Commission will detail the choices available to consumers for electric energy beginning July 1.
The cost for the luncheon is $7. Reservations must be made by tomorrow by calling Gifford at 410-721-7830.
Christian women to meet
The Christian German American Women's Group will meet at noon on Monday in the blue room of the Chapel Center on Grandea Avenue at Fort Meade. After a period of praise and reflection, a German lunch will be served, and guitarist Claudia Friend and pianist Heidi Zech will lead the group in singing.
Following an annual tradition, this month's meeting will feature a plant exchange and a time to honor mothers. New members are welcome.
Information: Irene Kucholik, 301-621-7862, or Lisa Beilke, 301-604-5880.